Understanding 11 Personnel in Football: What Does 11 Personnel Mean in Football?

If you’re a football fan, you might have heard the term “11 personnel” tossed around. But what does it actually mean? Put simply, it refers to a specific formation that most teams use on the field. And while it may sound technical, it’s actually pretty simple to understand once you break it down.

To start with, “11 personnel” means that the offensive team is using one running back and one tight end on the field. This is a pretty standard configuration that allows for a good balance of running and passing plays. It’s also a formation that many teams favor, as it allows for a high degree of versatility and flexibility on the field.

Now, you might be wondering why it’s called “11 personnel” in the first place. Well, the “11” refers to the fact that there are 11 players on the field total (not including special teams). The personnel designation, meanwhile, indicates the number and type of players in the formation. So while a team could technically use any combination of players on the field, “11 personnel” specifically means one running back and one tight end.

Types of Football Personnel

Football personnel refers to the players on the field during a game. The number of players and their positions vary based on the offensive or defensive formation the team chooses to use. The most common type of personnel grouping used in football is the “11 personnel.”

  • 11 personnel: 11 personnel means the offense has one running back, one tight end, and three wide receivers on the field. This personnel grouping is used by most teams as their base offense.
  • 10 personnel: 10 personnel means the offense has one running back and four wide receivers on the field. This grouping is used by teams when they want to put more speed on the field to spread out the defense.
  • 12 personnel: 12 personnel means the offense has one running back, two tight ends, and two wide receivers on the field. This grouping is used by teams when they want to establish the run and have more blocking up front.

There are also various other personnel groupings such as 21 personnel, 22 personnel, and 23 personnel, which all involve different combinations of running backs, tight ends, and wide receivers. These personnel groupings are used by coaches to create mismatches against the defense and exploit their weaknesses.

In addition to offensive personnel, there are also different types of defensive personnel. The most common type of personnel grouping used in football is the “4-3 personnel,” which means the defense has four defensive linemen, three linebackers, and four defensive backs on the field.

Offensive Personnel Defensive Personnel
11 personnel 4-3 personnel
10 personnel 3-4 personnel
12 personnel 4-2-5 personnel (nickel)
21 personnel 3-3-5 personnel (dime)

Overall, personnel groupings are an essential part of football strategy, and coaches must choose the right personnel to put their team in the best position to succeed.

History of football personnel

The concept of football personnel developed in the early 20th century when teams began to identify players by numbers. The formation of a team’s personnel is determined by the number of players that are designated for skill positions, blocking positions, or as defensive players. Each team can vary the number of players allotted to each position group in their personnel, but the most common personnel in modern football is the 11 personnel.

  • The 11 personnel is comprised of one running back, one tight end, and three wide receivers.
  • The 10 personnel is comprised of one running back, and four wide receivers.
  • The 12 personnel is comprised of one running back, two tight ends, and two wide receivers.

While these are the most common, there are other less common personnel groupings that are used in specific situations or by specific teams.

Throughout the history of football, there have been various offensive formations and personnel groupings that have evolved. One of the earliest and most basic formations was the T-formation, which was used in the early 1900s. The T-formation consisted of three running backs behind the quarterback, with the fullback positioned directly behind the quarterback. This formation was used to primarily to run the ball, and it was only when the single wing formation was developed in the 1920s that passing became a more prominent part of the game.

Personnel Grouping Description
00 No Running Backs, No Tight Ends, and Five Wide Receivers
10 One Running Back, and Four Wide Receivers
11 One Running Back, One Tight End, and Three Wide Receivers
12 One Running Back, Two Tight Ends, and Two Wide Receivers

With the evolution of the game, offensive formations and personnel groupings have continued to change and adapt to take advantage of the strengths and weaknesses of the players on the field. Today, teams employ complex offensive schemes that often involve multiple shifts and adjustments to take advantage of favorable matchups.

Function of football personnel

In football, personnel refers to the number of players and their positions on the field. The personnel package a team chooses determines the plays that can be run and the matchups that can be exploited. Teams have different personnel packages for different situations, and the most common personnel grouping is 11 personnel.

Common football personnel groupings

  • 11 personnel: 1 running back, 1 tight end, and 3 wide receivers
  • 12 personnel: 1 running back, 2 tight ends, and 2 wide receivers
  • 21 personnel: 2 running backs, 1 tight end, and 2 wide receivers

The function of 11 personnel

11 personnel is the most common personnel grouping in football. It is a versatile grouping that allows teams to spread the field with three wide receivers or run the ball effectively with a tight end. The 11 personnel package creates favorable matchups for the offense by forcing the defense to play with more defensive backs, which allows the offense to exploit matchups with their wide receivers.

The use of 11 personnel has become more popular in recent years as teams have realized the benefits of having three wide receivers on the field. It allows teams to use their best receivers and create mismatches with slower linebackers and safeties. It also helps to stretch the field vertically and horizontally, creating more space for the offense to operate.

Advantages and disadvantages of 11 personnel

The advantages of 11 personnel include:

Advantages Explenation
Versatility Allows teams to run or pass from a variety of formations
Matchup advantages Creates favorable matchups for the offense
Stretching the field Creates more space for the offense to operate by spreading the defense

The disadvantages of 11 personnel include:

  • Less physical presence: The use of only one running back can limit a team’s ability to run the ball consistently.
  • Predictability: Opposing defenses can more easily predict play calls when a team uses the same personnel package frequently.

Common 11 Personnel Formations

11 personnel in football means that there are 11 players on the field and 1 running back (RB), 1 tight end (TE), and 3 wide receivers (WR). This is the most common personnel grouping used by teams in the NFL because it provides a good balance of passing and running options.

Here are some of the most common 11 personnel formations:

  • Singleback: This formation features the RB lined up directly behind the quarterback (QB) and the TE and WRs spread out on either side of the field. It is a versatile formation that allows for both running and passing plays.
  • Shotgun: In this formation, the QB lines up several yards behind the center and the RB is typically positioned next to him or to his side. The TE and WRs are spread out across the field. This formation is often used for passing plays since the QB has a better view of the field and more time to make decisions.
  • Trips: This formation features three WRs lined up on the same side of the field, along with the TE and RB. It is an effective formation for short-yardage passing plays or running plays since there are more players on one side of the field, which can create mismatches or confusion for the defense.

When using 11 personnel, it’s important to vary the formations and plays to keep the defense guessing and prevent them from anticipating what the offense will do next. Here is a table outlining some of the most common plays run out of the 11 personnel grouping:

Play Description
Inside zone run RB runs between the tackles
Outside zone run RB runs outside the tackles, often utilizing a TE or pulling lineman for blocking
Slant route WR runs a diagonal route towards the middle of the field
Corner route WR runs towards corner of the endzone, creating a scoring opportunity
Play-action pass QB fakes a handoff to the RB, then throws to a WR or TE

Using these common 11 personnel formations and plays, teams can effectively move the ball down the field and score points. However, it’s important for coaches to continually innovate and update their schemes to stay ahead of defenses and keep the competition guessing.

Player positions in 11 personnel

11 personnel is a common offensive formation in football, consisting of one quarterback, one running back, and three wide receivers. The popularity of this formation has been on the rise due to the increasing emphasis on the passing game in recent years.

In this article, we will break down the player positions in 11 personnel and their roles on the field.

  • Quarterback (QB): The quarterback is the leader of the offense and is responsible for receiving the snap from the center, making decisions on where to throw the ball, and leading the team down the field.
  • Running Back (RB): The running back lines up behind the quarterback and has two main responsibilities: carrying the ball and blocking. A good running back can make defenders miss and run for big gains.
  • Wide Receiver (WR): The three wide receivers are split out wide and are responsible for running routes and catching the ball. They must be fast, agile, and have good hands to be successful in this position.

When it comes to 11 personnel, the wide receivers are the most important players on the field. They are the primary weapons in the passing game and are responsible for stretching the defense and creating opportunities for big gains.

It’s also worth noting that 11 personnel allows for a lot of flexibility and creativity in play-calling. Coaches can mix and match formations and play designs to keep defenses on their toes and create mismatches.

Position Responsibilities
Quarterback (QB) Leader of the offense, throws the ball, commands the huddle
Running Back (RB) Carries the ball, blocks for the quarterback, catches passes
Wide Receiver (WR) Runs routes, catches passes, stretches the defense, creates mismatches

Overall, 11 personnel is an exciting offensive formation that promotes creativity and flexibility in play-calling. Understanding the responsibilities of each player in this formation is key to success on the football field.

Comparison of 11 personnel to other football formations

One of the most popular formations in football is 11 personnel. However, how does it compare to other formations? Let’s take a closer look:

  • 10 personnel: This formation employs one running back and four wide receivers, as opposed to 11 personnel’s one running back and three wide receivers. The lack of a tight end in 10 personnel means that there are fewer blocking options, but more opportunities for explosive downfield passing plays.
  • 12 personnel: This formation involves one running back, two tight ends, and two wide receivers. The addition of a second tight end allows for more versatility in blocking schemes and creating mismatches. However, it can also limit the offense’s ability to stretch the field with downfield passing plays.
  • 21 personnel: This formation uses two running backs and one tight end. With an additional blocker, the offense can run the ball effectively and create confusion for the defense. However, the lack of a third wide receiver limits the offense’s passing options.

In comparison to these other formations, 11 personnel offers a balance of both running and passing options. The use of three wide receivers creates opportunities for downfield passing plays and spreading out the defense, while the presence of a single running back allows for effective rushing attacks and play action passes.

But don’t just take my word for it. Let’s take a look at the following table, which shows the usage percentage of 11 personnel among NFL teams:

Team Usage Percentage
Kansas City Chiefs 88.5%
Arizona Cardinals 82.7%
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 74.1%
Philadelphia Eagles 71.9%

As you can see, many NFL teams rely heavily on 11 personnel due to its balance of passing and running options. However, the success of any formation ultimately depends on the personnel and strengths of the team utilizing it.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using 11 Personnel

In football, 11 personnel refers to the offensive formation that consists of one quarterback, one running back, and three wide receivers. This formation is the most common in the game, and is often used in passing situations where the offense wants to spread the field and create mismatches in the secondary.

Using 11 personnel can have both advantages and disadvantages, depending on the situation and the opposing defense. Let’s explore them below:


  • Explosive Plays: With three wide receivers on the field, the offense can create more opportunities for big plays. The defense has to cover more ground, which can open up gaps in the secondary.
  • Flexibility: 11 personnel provides the offense with the flexibility to run or pass out of the formation, making it harder for the defense to predict the play.
  • Mismatches: With three wide receivers, the offense can create mismatches with the defense. For example, a speedy receiver might be matched up against a slower linebacker, giving the offense an advantage.


While the advantages of using 11 personnel are clear, there are also some disadvantages:

  • Weaker Running Game: With only one running back on the field, the running game can suffer. Defenses can stack the box and make it difficult to run the ball effectively.
  • Less Time of Possession: The passing game is often more explosive, but it can also lead to quicker drives and less time of possession for the offense. This can put pressure on the defense and lead to fatigue in the later stages of the game.
  • Susceptible to Blitzes: With fewer players in the backfield, the offense is more susceptible to blitzes and pressure packages from the defense. This can lead to sacks and turnovers if the offensive line can’t hold up.


Using 11 personnel can be highly effective in the right situations, but it can also have its drawbacks. It’s up to the coaching staff to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their team and their opponent to decide if 11 personnel is the best formation to use. By understanding the advantages and disadvantages, a team can make a more informed decision and maximize their chances of success.

Pros Cons
Explosive Plays Weaker Running Game
Flexibility Less Time of Possession
Mismatches Susceptible to Blitzes

Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of using 11 personnel can help coaches make informed decisions about how to maximize their offensive capabilities.

FAQs: What Does 11 Personnel Mean in Football?

1. What is 11 personnel?

11 personnel is an offensive football formation that consists of one running back, one tight end, and three wide receivers.

2. Why is it called 11 personnel?

The name comes from the number of players in the formation. “11” refers to the one running back, and the three wide receivers, for a total of 11 players on the field.

3. What are the advantages of using 11 personnel?

Using three wide receivers allows for more passing options and can create mismatches against opposing defenses. It also allows for more flexibility in play-calling.

4. What are the typical plays used in 11 personnel?

Common plays include passing plays such as slants, curls, and fades. Running plays such as inside zone and outside zone are also commonly used.

5. How is 11 personnel different from 10 personnel?

The main difference between 11 and 10 personnel is the number of wide receivers. 10 personnel uses one running back and four wide receivers, while 11 personnel uses three wide receivers.

6. What teams commonly use 11 personnel?

Many NFL teams use 11 personnel as their base offensive formation. Some popular examples include the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, and Green Bay Packers.

Closing: Thanks for Reading!

We hope that these FAQs have helped you understand what 11 personnel means in football. Whether you’re a seasoned fan or a newcomer to the sport, understanding different offensive formations is essential. Thank you for reading, and be sure to check back for more football-related content!